Date: May 11, 2022

Extern is helping to highlight the impact of isolation and loneliness in rural areas across Northern Ireland with the publication of a new print and digital resource aimed at those living in more remote communities. 

The newly-published Rural Isolation factsheet offers advice on how to identify and manage mental health issues, as well as signposting to services and resources which can offer support.

These include a range of Extern’s own range of mental health and wellbeing projects, as well as downloadable digital and print materials which offer advice and guidance on issues such as depression and low mood, among others. 

The new resource has been issued to mark Mental Health Week 2022, the theme of which this year is ‘Loneliness’, as well as to coincide with the annual Balmoral Show, which takes place from May 11-14th. 

A recent survey by The Samaritans has found that people living in rural areas in Northern Ireland (47%) are less likely than those in urban areas (70%) to reach out for support or talk to someone if they are struggling with their mental health. 

Extern staff member holding up digital resources

Meanwhile, research by the Farm Safety Foundation has revealed that four out of five young farmers aged under 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem currently being faced by farmers. 

Danny McQuillan, CEO of Extern, said: “As one of the leading organisations supporting people with mental health in Northern Ireland, we in Extern understand the many factors which can contribute to issues such as depression, anxiety and low mood. 

“These are often much worse for those living in rural communities who may not have the same social or support networks as those living in more populated areas. They may also face greater physical challenges in accessing services due to the isolated nature of where they live. Likewise, limitations in internet access can also add to these feelings of isolation. 

“This new information sheet offers a starting point for those who may be affected by poor mental health to both identify how they are feeling and enable them to take action to begin to address this. We would therefore encourage anyone who is affected by poor mental health, or who knows someone else who needs support, to download this resource and avail of the advice and signposting it offers.”